UnWholly (Unwind, #2)

UnWholly - Neal Shusterman There are no pictures, but the woman is describing the process -- how bits and pieces of almost a hundred different Unwinds were used to create it. Rise feels a shiver go as far down her spine as she can feel..."Why would they do such a thing?" she asks."Because they can, Connor says bitterly.The heroes of the first Unwind novel are all trying to adapt to their new lives of fame. Connor struggles with being the new leader of the Graveyard, keeping things running while unbeknownst to him, a manipulative and ruthless newcomer plans a mutiny. Lev is back in society, villainized by one group and adored by another, and eventually thrown in with a female tithe-to-be that reminds him far too much of his old self. Meanwhile, Risa is just coming to accept her life in a wheelchair when everything changes for her and she's chosen to be the companion of a boy who is comprised entirely of other Unwinds in a Katniss/Peeta-type media campaign. I loved how, even years later, Shusterman is able to draw the reader back into the time and place of Unwind, reacquaint you with the characters, and make you once again care deeply about them and their cause. I appreciated that this book went into more details about the history leading up to the beginning of Unwinding, including present-day news articles that solidify the backstory for those that think the world of Unwind is too unfeasible and unrealistic (and really, it's dystopian/sci-fi, people... it doesn't have to be completely feasible). The conspiracies run deep, giving another layer to the story of the first book, but -- like the first one -- this book is really about the people and their struggles, their frustrations, and their simple humanity. The moral dilemmas brought up in this book go beyond those in the first book, once again making the reader really sit and ponder what it means to be human.A sequel, sadly, is rarely ever as good as the original, and I think the brilliance of the first book gave me incredibly high expectations for this one, which were mostly met. The addition of new characters in conjunction with the old ones creating a multitude of storylines, and while these jumps were clear-cut and were essential to the story, I grew impatient waiting for the narration to jump back to certain characters' storylines. Also, I think some of the shockingness of the first one was lost because we already knew the world and knew about unwinding and how it worked. Though gripping and heartbreaking, the "death chapters" (yup, somebody dies) in this book pale in comparison to Roland's unwinding chapter, but do make you wonder what Shusterman is going to do in the third one to top it. Also, as typical with second-books-in-a-series, it really just seemed to set everything in motion for a final book, though the lack of resolution probably wouldn't be so frustrating if the third book weren't still being written.Overall: A fabulous sequel, and one that I'd highly recommend for those that loved the intense emotional experience of Unwind.